Massage therapists are frequently asked how often one should receive massage. The answer depends on many factors, such as: the purpose for massage, life style, physical condition, and occupation.
Therapists begin by looking at the purpose of the massage. They take into consideration if the session is for treatment or if is for maintenance and unwinding from day to day stressors. Treatment sessions are any session where an acute or chronic injury or illness is being addressed. Maintenance sessions are any session where general massage is applied to the full body for the purposes of staying well, staying motivated, and checking in to one’s wellness goals. There may be a few areas of focus, but rehabilitation or specific work is not the intent.
When evaluating treatment the therapist judges whether the injury is acute or chronic. The individual’s current level of activity and desired level of activity is taken into account. Many times these decisions are informed by information provided from and corroboration with other healthcare practitioners. In these cases, a specific treatment plan would be outlined and massage may be recommended one to multiple times a week for several weeks. Treatment would continue until the intended milestone is met. This may be defined as a certain level of joint mobilization/range of motion, decreased pain level, ability to sustain desired activity level.
After treatment, clients may choose to return to the practice and receive maintenance massage 1-2 times per month or 6 times per year. They realize that preventing injury and keeping in tune with their bodies can save their health and health care dollars in the long run. The therapist and client determine how often bodywork is needed to maintain a positive state of physical, mental, or emotional well-being.
For example, a client who regularly receives massage for maintenance purposes injures their rotator cuff. They consult an orthopedic doctor, but decide against surgery, as they are aware of the benefits massage may provide. The therapist would then consult with the client and orthopedic doctor to develop a treatment plan that would establish objective goals and markers to measure when and how they were met. All aforementioned factors, life style, current physical condition, occupation and finances, would be taken into consideration. This provides a guideline for the therapist and client to work from as treatment progressed. As the injury heals this would give a written record for the therapist and client to track changes in perceived pain, muscle tension and range of motion. Over time sessions would spread out and eventually return to a maintenance schedule.
So, the answer to the question, “How often should I receive massage?” has no simple answer. It is different for each person given his or her unique conditions and circumstances, and may change over time.
One last note, a healthy therapeutic relationship that is founded on trust is essential to personal growth. Return only to those therapists you feel completely at ease and comfortable working with. Developing a trusting, comfortable, confidential relationship is essential given the sensitive and vulnerable nature of massage. Take time to research the practice’s qualifications and therapist’s skill set and the environment in which the session will take place.
Hands On Health Massage Therapy & Wellness | 7980 Chapel Hill Road, Ste 125 Cary, NC 27513 | 919.854.9555